Atrel: Making Training Possible
By Kyrk and Deborah Baker
Spread throughout the Northwest peninsula of Haiti are more than 80 BHM-affiliated churches and schools. Many of the teachers in these rural areas do not have an advanced education. We have encountered teachers that only have a 6th-grade education and were given the job of a teacher because they had the most education of anyone in the area. The need for qualified, educated teachers is a real need in many areas of Haiti. Because of this need, the Mission has been involved in training teachers for many years, and we are now looking to expand our capacity for training in the Northwest.
Many of the teachers in the Northwest have never made the arduous journey to the Fermathe campus where the Master’s Program is held. The reason why they do not take the journey to Fermathe is lack of time and lack of money — it can take two to three days to make the trek, and the cost is often prohibitive. How can these teachers have access to the training they desperately need to help improve their teaching?
Lay preachers in the Northwest will make the yearly trek to Fermathe for the annual church conference, but often it is not possible to make the trip for pastor training seminars that are held at other times of the year. There is great desire and need for more training, but it is not readily available where they live.
Seeing this great need, the mission decided to begin the development of a new campus in the Northwest where the training offered at Fermathe could be duplicated. The early discussions of this new development started in 2007 with the goal that we (Kyrk and Deborah) along with our five children would be on site in the summer of 2010. God had other plans (think earthquake, January 12, 2010). As we look back on this time, it is amazing to see how God worked all things for His good and answered all of the questions and uncertainties we were facing if we had made the move in 2010. So in God’s perfect time, we moved to the Northwest in 2013 to begin construction of a training center where teachers and church leaders will receive training closer to home.
Progress has been slow, starting on a blank mountainside void of vegetation except for a few shrubs, but God has provided, and we have been able to build a home and a large storage building. Currently, we are finishing up the perimeter fence and working on the first dormitory. Lord willing, teacher training sessions will be able to take place next summer, and we will also be able to begin offering many more opportunities to the lay preachers and youth such as camps, conferences, and retreats.